Wet and dirty with the Nikon D800

Huber Patric (website | flickr | facebook) and his abandoned mining sites, industrial ruins, old bunkers and ghost houses photography:

Did your parents take you as a child in sticky tourist caves with trails better that any highway?

I liked it, but I always wondered what’s behind there in the black hole where tourists are not allowed.

My pleasure with dark holes changed to a passion for abandoned mining sites, industrial ruins, old bunkers and ghost houses.

It’s just about to enter a time capsule. I am always looking for places that are abandoned for at least 5 Years. But some of those ruins are abandoned for 10 to 100 years. Inside you'll find cool stuff, and I always wonder how those people could build such things without the machines we have today.

Inside those structures you'll find the nightmare of any electronic device. There are always low temperatures, water, dust, dirt, sand, mud, oil and other chemicals that were left there because recycling and environment protection was not at all a priority in those times and by the way not yet enough today.

I've been taking pictures since I was 10 Years old and got a Canon AE-1, changed as a teenager to Minolta and since the Nikon F4 I use Nikon. Today I can say, Nikon? What else? Not because I am a Nikon brand slave, but those Cameras are tough like a fusion of Ironman with the Hulk.

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The pictures above were all taken in the 70’s abandoned Fluorite mining site close to Utzenbach in Germany. All pictures are taken with the D800 and the Nikkor 16-35/f4

The Black Forest in Southern Germany is the paradise of abandoned mines. Fluorite, Silver and Lead Mines are everywhere. And all of them were abandoned between the 1950’s and 1970’s.

And you can imagine there is not an open door for going inside. So my friends and I were in some sort of grey zone of law. But we never broke anything or took something else than pictures outside. So we used ventilation tubes or natural chimneys to get inside. We were well prepared with climbing skills and construction plans.

But the equipment problems are only started there at the entrance. I never know what’s inside. And volume and weight is crucial if you have to stay a whole day in such a place and have to use climbing equipment for descending and climbing back outside over hundreds of meters.

For locations like these mines I restricted myself to a Thinktank Speedfreak which fit perfectly in a water-resistant rope bag. So I took one body and max. 3 lenses with me. My preferred lenses for caving are the Nikkor 16-35/f4 the Nikkor 50/f1.4 that I complete sometimes with a Macro and a Diagonal Fisheye lens. For Lighting I take two SB 900, one or two Nitecore TM-26 Torches, a lot of candles and other smaller lights and sometimes laser pointers. And I always take a good tripod with me because I use very long exposure times.

For those locations that offer more space, I have a Lowepro Trecker 650 AW bag. Like here in this abandoned health clinic in Feldberg Germany.

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I never use protection bags once the camera is out of the bag. On the lenses I have neutral filters, because often the front lens element gets wet and if you start to clean in combination with dust or sand you can imagine the scratches on the front lens element. But for the rest I use my body’s and lenses as they are.

Another problem is changing lenses. But whatever I have done to protect mirrors and sensors in those situations was not helping. The D800 behaves like it sucks in dust like a vacuum cleaner. So sensor cleaning etc. I do it a lot. But I had never had any problems from water dropping on the camera.

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The pictures above were taken in an abandoned Oil Power Plant named Chavalon in Switzerland. The problem was to find an entrance. But LOST PLACE Photography is always with the risk that you go there and don’t find a possibility to go in. Here the solution was to take the role of a rat, so we found an entrance to the empty cooling pipelines that lead us directly to the core of the power station. We had a lot of fun at these locations. You can play core breach in the central or play with the extreme echo in the very large tubes. As you can see I like strong contrast and colors. I do a lot HDR’s and use 9 pictures that I combine with Photoshop or with HDR Darkroom. Sometimes I do the Brenizer Method, but only if I have a lot of light.

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The pictures above show an abandoned mining site in Les Baulmes Switzerland. Here a lot of water was dropping from the ceiling. The lighting in the water was done with the TM-26 and the colors by walking around with a SB-900 with a blue balloon over the flash’s head. I flashed manually about 10 times while walking around. The solution is always trial and error.

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The photos above where taken in an abandoned mining site in Walensee, Switzerland. A perfect example of what is left behind in those places. A lot of lorry's, rails, machines and more. I just can’t get enough of this stuff.

The photos below were taken in an abandoned house in the Swiss Alps close to Churwalden, which is close to Roger Federer’s home.

Normally I have a mirrorless camera in my bag, but here I also had the D800 with me. I am also waiting for a Nikon mirrorless camera with a big sensor.  😉

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Bunkers are another story. In France and Germany you can find a lot of them. But in Switzerland a lot of them are reused as museums or for private businesses. Sometimes you find one just by walking around in the mountains. Below you see one picture taken in the Bunker who brings you from one side of the mountain to the other side. The second picture was taken from the bunkers backdoor. The whole trip was about 8 hours and therefore I was happy that I didn't take too much equipment with me.

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After these locations I often have dirt on the camera body or the lens. I wear gloves in these locations and take them off for taking the pictures. But with all of my attention it’s not possible to get out without some dirt on the body and the lenses. At home I always dry the bags, the body, and the lenses completely and take of the dirt with soft brushes.

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PS: I promised with the title "Wet and Dirty" photos...

So here you can see some pictures of an abandoned red light establishment. For myself I can say without getting a red face... I was in a brothel... Bolero, Hauenstein Switzerland.

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More photographs can be found on Patric's website: www.patric-huber.ch (German only) - you have to go directly to Menü>Fotografie>LOST PLACES.

If you have an interesting idea for a guest post, you can contact me here.

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  • Very nice.

  • fanboy fagz

    some unique shots but I am not a fan of HDR. its been done to death. I like the one with the stone 🙂

    • n11

      I was going to mention that he’s likely using an older version of Photoshop because the clarity is creating a “glow” around certain objects, the newer photoshop versions don’t do that. A bit too much HDR for me as well.

      • ninpou_kobanashi

        I am curious what percentage of people like that look.
        It has always bothered me, but I know that a lot of folks like it.

  • Ritvars Pujats

    D800 is overkill for this guy, let’s hope he get’s better to use all potential of the camera

    • Patrick O’Connor

      I think it’s already been established that nobody needs any particular camera and we all have room for improvement. 🙂

    • My opinion is, that the D800 or its follower are very versatile Bodys with a Sensor that gets You a lot of space for developing the photos later. I don’t buy any new body that follows… I “use” my bodys until they die… The D800 just don’t want to give up 🙂
      But for shure the D850 will be my next one 😉

      • Ritvars Pujats

        That is a good attitude towards gear. You see, when I noticed that all of this was taken with D800 I was sad, since I had formed opinion about users who use them, that they are either pro’s or going to be, but this is neither. I must admit your photos are unique, but not in a good way, they look like my mates photos – he too likes hdr, but he takes them with his phone… I am not lazy so I did check your flickr account, to be objective and checked wedding photos, since I myself shoot them a lot and you are well of your gears possibilities. On other hand you have lots of space for improvement witch is great.

  • Spy Black

    Great work. A bit over-processed sometimes, but overall really good stuff, nice use of lighting.

  • Duncan Dimanche

    god some of thhose shots are just hurting my eyes. I personally do not like over processed HDR but he took it to a whole other level…
    otherwise the other shots were nice and very unique

    • ninpou_kobanashi

      Renderings can be changed over time. As things fall out of fashion, images can be re-generated. I hope he took a lot of RAW (^_^).

  • Cinematism

    Thanks for share your work with us. I like your pictures. And I found very interesting the idea to shot long exposures in abandoned mines.

  • outkasted

    The 16-35mm/f4 is a beast

  • Patrick O’Connor

    I want to really like the last shot but the smoke at the bottom of the frame is a confusing. The line separating it from the top 2/3rds attracts too much attention. If it were a bit tighter, or maybe looser, it would be stronger.

  • NursultanTulyakbay

    Most of these are great. Very good eye of a talented photographer. But why did he include a bunch of “I-just-got-my-first-DSLR-and-copy-of-photoshop” shots? I can count on 1 hand the number of HDR photographs that I have seen and thought to myself, “wow, that’s cool.” These don’t even look like photographs. More like circa 2005 Xbox game renders – except not as realistic looking. I am having a hard time believing that those are all the product of the same person.

    • Patrick O’Connor

      I think you’ll find gentle, constructive criticism goes a long way.

  • Aldo

    gee guys how about some constructive criticism on his own style… I think it’s very interesting stuff… lots of fun taking these I bet

  • Bobbin -C

    The most disgusting HDR I have ever seen

  • Hy 🙂 Sorry that i forgot to mention that the HDR’s and Saturation maybe could make You blind….
    But not all of them are HDR’s…
    I do high contrast, saturation and HDR’s when i can do what i want… If i do my usual stuff like Baby or Wedding Photography i have to take care what others want 🙂
    My post its about to do Photography in places where is absolutely no or just little amount of light.
    And even with light they are only old dirty places….
    Whit “my” style… they look like like Disneyland.. even when some times the way to get there is slightly harder than taking the photos themselfs…
    So….I like those colors, contrasts and saturation…
    Fell free to come with me and make different one’s 🙂
    Everyone should look more on his own style.
    But i think a lot people would’t even think about totake their Baby’s outside the pocket in a place like this…
    Could get dirty 😉

    • Patrick O’Connor

      I would be so happy to wander through the Black Forest, I’d probably forget to take any photos…nah!

    • Jim Soroka


      Thank you for sharing your photos with us.

      I really enjoyed your perspective and style. It takes courage to post your work in a forum such as this and I admire that. I wish some of these miserable toolbags who are sooo critical of everyone, would have the courage to post some of their own work. But they never do.
      Anyway….keep up the good work…your efforts show how much you really enjoy photography.

  • TheRasmus

    It’s a shame to use camera and lens that costs $3500 for such pictures. Nikon d3000 with 18-55 for $200 is more than enough.

  • USAisGOD

    That HDR halo, holy cow, I sometimes wonder if the people producing it actually see it and think it is good or is their eye that unrefined?

  • TheRasmus

    It’s a shame to use camera and lens that costs $3500 for such pictures. An entry level camera + least expensive kit lens both for $200 is more than enough.

  • FountainHead

    Just nasty.

  • Paul H.

    “…were all taken in the 70’s abandoned Fluorite mining sit…” Whoa. I almost thought you meant these were shot in the 70’s until I saw you shot with a D800.

  • Fox sweN Lies

    Some of the HDR images look like video game screen captures not photographs, great work and effort none the less.

  • You need to take some art appreciation classes.

  • Michiel953

    Some interesting and creative images here, and I admire all the preparation and effort that have gone into them. And good to hear about the sturdiness of the D8xx series, if treated with adequate care.

    The HDR images? Not for me.

  • wapiti

    I enjoyed your story and efforts. Do your art as it pleases you most.

  • Maybe 🙂
    But the D3000 with this lens is not build to take such kind of water and dust?! And i could not take it in studio or for a weding next day…
    But i never told i am perfect. I like to learn 🙂
    Show me Your pictures 🙂

  • Frank Villafane

    Hello Huber,

    I really enjoyed this article and your images. I particularly liked the industrial and bunker shots – like walking into a time capsule. There is a certain allure to urban decay, and your photographs adequately capture it.

    Ignore all the HDR naysayers…as one commenter put it: they are quick to criticize, but never post their own work for review. I once posted some images of bridges and cityscapes here (Urban Industrial Imaging – March 1, 2014)…some comments were extremely critical. HDR is what got me started in photography. Yes, it can be overdone, but as you grow and mature, so will your style. I once relied heavily on an HDR post-process workflow for all my images…I have since tempered that approach in favor of clarity and contrast.

    Nevertheless, your work is interesting and certainly worth showcasing (obviously, NikonRumors believes that). Never stop shooting what you love.

    Frank V.

  • YRaj

    If you love photography…really love it that you see beauty in other people’s photographs, by acknowledging their uniqueness that brings some awesome work together with outliers, you will appreciate this set of photographers. If you are just a follower, chasing the socially decree of perfection, you don’t get it.
    That’s okay too..some of us are followers and some of us are in love..with this art form, called photography. Keep on rocking it harder, Huber… I look forward to seeing more of your journey.
    “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation” – Oscar Wilde

  • Herman Au

    Oh boy…. my eyes

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